ASEAN NTOs share wishlist for ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan review


ASEAN NTOs have agreed to recommend a mid-term review of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025 to their tourism ministers during their meetings today (January 15) and tomorrow.

Benito Bengzon Jr, undersecretary, Philippines Department of Tourism, said the Philippines has offered to take the lead in organising what will be a combination of a retreat and planning session, planned for September this year, subject to ministerial approval.

ASEAN NTOs first met on January 12 in Brunei, and meetings will continue today and tomorrow

Bengzon Jr said the mid-term review is vital to evaluate the performance of ATSP and determine the future course of action for the next five years.

He said: “(The review) will set the overall direction and vision for tourism in South-east Asia, and more specifically, it will identify what strategic concerns need to be looked into. Currently, the ATSP basically talks about two main strategic directions, which are increasing the competitiveness of the region as a collective destination, and ensuring sustainability and inclusivity for the stakeholders.”

The review will also look at the existing committee and evaluate whether alterations are needed to achieve the goals.

Thong Rathanak, director general of Cambodia’s Tourism Development and International Cooperation and vice chair of the ASEAN NTO Meeting at ATF 2020, noted that with changes in the general and tourism landscape taking place so rapidly, NTO representatives were proposing a review every six months.

Thong remarked: “Changes may take place not even in months, but in days. For example, events happening in Australia and Iran may impact South-east Asia or our industry, so it will not be productive to conduct a review only once a year.”

He emphasised that there is a need to determine what “needs to be changed, and what needs to be our top priority”.

When asked what Philippine representatives would like to see happen through the review, Bengzon, Jr said member states needed “to rethink marketing and promotion initiatives” to take into account the market shift towards digital platforms, and to pay greater attention to delivering authentic destination experiences.

Rizki Handayani, head of the delegation from the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, identified the trend of multi-generational travel as well as the development of marine and island products as focal points.

For Noor Zari bin Hammat, secretary general, Malaysia Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, an effective balance between competitiveness and sustainability should be achieved.

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